Ken Davidoff has been blogging up a storm this week, and most of what he’s posted has been fairly interesting. One thing that caught my eye this morning was his look at the Phillies bullpen. It was meant as a message to Mets fans. As in, don’t think that throwing money at K-Rod or Fuentes or Joe Biemel or Juan Cruz will solve your bullpen problems. The Yanks tried to accomplish this by signing Kyle Farnsworth after the 2005 season, and we saw the results.

Instead, the Phillies have pieced together a bullpen by finding underrated pitchers who get the job done. When I look at their guys, I can’t help but think of how the Yankees went about building the pen this year. Let’s hope they stick to a similar strategy going forward.

Philly Salary Yankee Salary
Brad Lidge $6.35MM Mariano Rivera $15MM
J.C. Romery $3.25MM Damaso Marte $2MM
Ryan Madson $1.4MM Brian Bruney $750K
J.A. Happ $390K Jose Veras $400K
Scot Eyre $950K Edwar Ramirez $400K
Chad Durbin $900K David Robertson $400K
Clay Condrey $420K Dan Giese $412K

Paying for proven closers is one thing. Paying for middle relievers is quite another. This is likely why the Yankees haven’t yet committed one way or another on the Damaso Marte option. However, other than a hiccup in August, he’s been pretty solid over the past seven seasons. Perhaps he’s an exception to the rule. His history sure makes it look like he is.

Categories : Analysis
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The last (and only other) time I posted an update of our fantasy football league I was buried with a 2-4 record, good for 15th place in a 20 team league. I had lost Rashard Mendenhall (who was primed for an increase in carries due to Willie Parker’s injury) and Vince Young to injury and suicidal thoughts, respectively, and San Diego’s sorely underperforming D was no help either. The future looked bleak.

But then something unexpected happened. I got huge games out of Calvin Johnson, Ryan Grant & Brandon Jacobs in Week 7, leading to a 34+ pt win. The following week my team gritted & scrapificated out a 3.24 pt win behind my boy Chad Pennington to pull to .500. Solid contributions across the board led to a firm 20 pt win last week, and viola, I’m suddenly right in the thick of the playoff hunt at 5-4.

With five weeks to go before the postseason (the top eight teams will make it), I’m tied with four others for seventh place, although my lack of total points has relegated me to tenth. Three of my final five games come against the teams currently in second, third and fourth place, so I’m going to have to earn my way to the playoffs.

I lost one of my most consistent point getters when Michael Pittman landed on the IR, so my 3 RB / 2 WR lineup suddenly became a 2 RB / 3 WR setup with Antwaan Randle El falling into a full-time gig. The waiver wire & free agency pool is barren, and attempts to acquire a fill-in RB via trade have proved fruitless. The trade deadline is next Friday, and barring some minor tweaks, it looks like I’ll be going to war with my current roster.

I’m sure some of the other players will chime in via the comments. Current standings after the jump.

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Categories : Not Baseball
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One of the biggest obstacles to the Yankees acquiring Mark Teixeira this winter is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It appears they want to retain him, and will make a sizable offer to the 28-year-old first baseman. Not only that, but the Red Sox appear interested, meaning the price might get a bit steep. Probably not 10 years, $200 million steep, but it’ll get up there.

The good news is that the Angels don’t necessarily play Scott Boras’s game of gauging the market and waiting it out in hopes of extracting the largest possible offer. They like to make big offers and act quickly, as evidenced by the Torii Hunter acquisition last winter. Word from Angels GM Tony Reagins is that the team won’t let the Teixeira situation drag out.

“In any situation, you get to a point where you have to make a decision and move the business forward,” Angels GM Tony Reagins said. “In any negotiation, there always comes that point where you have to say, you’re in or you’re out.”

When will that point be? Rosenthal speculates that it could come as soon as next Thursday, though that’s doubtful. There’s little chance that Teixeira accepts an offer before at least gauging the market. You don’t hire Scott Boras as your agent so you can take a hometown discount before hearing other offers. You don’t turn down $140 million without the intent of hearing higher bids.

I have a feeling this might be some hot air coming from the Angels. They’ll surely make an aggressive offer to keep Teixeira, who hit .358/.449/.632 in his 234 Angels plate appearances. I don’t expect them to just bow out, though, if he doesn’t immediately accept the offer. There will be plenty of them, and it’s in his best interest to take the time to examine each of them. (Especially if the highest one is from the Yankees.)

Categories : Hot Stove League
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Johan Santana dominated the baseball off-season last year. For much of November, December and January, the news began and ended with Santana rumors and shenanigans. This year, while the free agent class is strong, Jake Peavy seems to be the name making the trade rumor rounds.

As everyone knows, we at RAB were stridently opposed to the Santana deal. While we’ll never know for sure, the Yanks seemed to be offering up at least Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes along with some combination of outfield talent in exchange for just one year of Santana and the ability to sign him to a very long-term deal. Considering the money, pre-existing contract and outlay of talent, the Santana deal didn’t make sense to us then, and we have no regrets.

But I personally can’t say the same for Jake Peavy. The Padres are currently shopping the 27-year-old right hander. Peavy is set to make a good chunk of change, and San Diego would prefer to have the payroll flexibility as they attempt to rebuild after a disastrous season. Peavy also has a no-trade clause which complicates the matter.

Prior to this week, reports indicated that Peavy wanted to stay in the NL, and Atlanta had emerged as a clear destination. This week, however, rumors emerged that indicated a willingness on Peavy’s part to come to New York. The Padres are looking to off-load a contract; they want Major League or Major League-ready talent in return; and as everyone knows, it pays to keep the Yanks involved.

The gut reaction of many Yankee watchers is to lump this deal in with the Santana talks. If the Yanks wouldn’t trade for a proven AL lefty, why would they trade for Peavy? In reality, it’s not comparable.

It all boils down to the contract. Peavy is owed a little over $60 million over the next four seasons (with a $22 million option for 2013). For a pitcher just entering his pitching prime, that’s a relative steal. Unlike with Santana, a team acquiring Peavy wouldn’t be paying for just one year; they’d be trading away for four or five years of a pitcher.

Now, could Peavy succeed in the AL? That’s the question a lot of Yankee fans have asked. After all, not only has Peavy been a lifelong NL pitcher, but he’s thrived in the vast reaches of Petco Park. All we can do is look at some numbers. Since Petco opened in 2004, Peavy has pitched quite well there. In 541.2 innings, he has a 2.66 ERA. He has allowed 149 walks, racked up 600 K’s and has surrendered 37 long balls or one every 14.2 innings.

His numbers on the road, however, are rather encouraging. In that same time frame, Peavy has 427 road innings to the tune of a 3.31 ETA. He has allowed 47 home runs, has walked 143 and has struck out 410. Those are some pretty good peripherals. Furthermore, we have some limited numbers against the AL. In his career against American League teams, Peavy has thrown 120.1 innings with the following line: 3.29 ERA, 13 HR, 33 BB, 113 K. All of these numbers suggest the ability to get hitters out in any league.

Basically, this all boils down to the players involved in any potential trade. The contract isn’t an obstacle; Peavy’s stuff and his past success lend credence to the belief that he could pitch at a high level in the AL. I’m not opposed to seeing Ian Kennedy go in a potential deal; I’d be less thrilled to see Phil Hughes go; and I wouldn’t include both of them — or Robinson Cano by himself — in one trade. But if the right offer comes along and Peavy passes his physical, I’d welcome the righty to New York.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Pettitte wants to pitch
    By

    Via PeteAbe, Andy Pettitte told a Houston TV station that he wants to pitch next year. I’m certain the Yanks want him back, and all they have to do is hammer out the details. Looks like we’ll be seeing Dandy Andy in the New Stadium next year. · (52) ·

Just a couple of notes to take you into the Election Night proceedings:

  • The Yankees have declined the $13 million option for Carl Pavano and the $22 million option for Jason Giambi, according to Mark Feinsand. There’s a chance, albeit slim, that the Yankees could look to retain one or both, but on more team-friendly terms. They’ll pay Pavano $1.95 million to buy him out, Giambi $5 million.
  • The team did not, however, announce anything regarding Damaso Marte‘s $6 million option for 2009. While it has been speculated that they will decline it, indications are that the team is looking to sign him to a different deal, one that likely spans multiple years. Worst case, they offer him arbitration and net a couple of draft picks.
  • According to Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have had “very preliminary” discussions with the agents for CC Sabathia. This is no big deal of course, certainly no bigger than A.J. Burnett opting out of his contract. The Yanks are expected to make an offer exceeding the contract of Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million with a $25 million club option for 2014).
Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Burnett opts out of contract
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    This is nothing more than a formality, but now it’s official. According to Ken Rosenthal, A.J. Burnett has opted out of the two remaining years on his contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. The right hander, who will be 32 just after the new year, is foregoing $24 million to seek further riches. We can expect to hear plenty about the Yankees interest in Burnett, as we already have this hot-stove season. · (65) ·

It appears our long wait for a new third base coach may be coming to a close. Jon Heyman, reporting from the GM meetings, notes that Mick Kelleher could be the favorite to land the job. Here’s what he says about the candidate:

Cano’s struggles have led the Yankees to consider hiring as a major-league coach infield instructor Mick Kelleher, who’s emerged as the leading candidate to replace fired third base coach Bobby Meacham. Kelleher, who has received high marks for his coaching in the minors, has the distinction of playing 11 seasons in the big leagues without ever hitting a home run.

The Yankees are still weighing how to utilize their coaches, and one possibility would be to make Kelleher the first base coach and move Tony Pena to third base. Kelleher is seen as a “Larry Bowa type.”

This should make Yankees fans happy. Everyone wants Larry Bowa back because they believe he’s the remedy for Cano. So what if we just brought in his evil twin? They’re both about the same height, are within two years of each other, and were mostly powerless (Bowa just had 15 more home runs in his career than Kelleher in 7,901 more trips to the plate).

Categories : Front Office
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It’s a well-known ploy among teams and agents: make sure you float the notion that the Yankees are involved. The idea is that this will cause other teams to pony up more money, lest they lose out to the financial juggernauts of the East. Strategically this works better for free agents, but surely teams like to keep the Yankees involved when they’re talking trade. This winter, we’re seeing this logic employed by the Padres, in the Jake Peavy proceedings, and we’re starting to see it from the Rockies in their quest to deal Matt Holliday.

For today’s edition, we point to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. He opens the article talking about Brian Fuentes, a reported target of our crosstown rivals. In the bottom third, he talks about the potential trades of Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday. He brings up an interesting point, though given the language he uses, it seems that this might be little more than a pipe dream:

There’s a growing likelihood that Matt Holliday will be traded at some point, given that the Rockies have conceded they won’t be able to sign him long-term. When surveying executives about a possible landing spot, the Yankees continue to pop up. One scenario floated: Yankees trade Hideki Matsui to Seattle and land Holliday with a package focusing on starter Phil Hughes.

Of course, trading Matsui doesn’t necessarily open up an outfield spot for Holliday. Brian Cashman has stated that the plan is to have Johnny Damon leading off and starting in left. Matsui, after surgeries on each of his knees in the past year, isn’t expected to play much, if at all, in the outfield. Judging by what we saw of him this year, that’s probably for the better.

The move would allow Damon to DH more frequently. He hit .320/.407/.437 as a DH in 2008 over 119 plate appearances. He was far worse in 2007 as a hitter only — .229/.316/.328 — though early season injuries and general lack of conditioning forced him into that role. He stepped up his production considerably later on that year after retaining his health. He could also play center field some games, perhaps enabling Brett Gardner to sit against lefties.

Renck misses the biggest obstacle in this scenario: Who do the Yanks get back from Seattle? It couldn’t be much. We’re talking about a guy who will turn 35 during the season, who can’t play the outfield, and who is scheduled to make $13 million in the final year of his contract. Even with salary relief coming from the Yankees, the proposition isn’t so attractive for the Ms. Why would they give up a young, controllable player — surely what the Yankees would seek in exchange — for such a player?

Hideki might be headed into the twilight of his career, but he can still be an effective player. If his surgically repaired knees can stand the rigors of DHing, he can provide more value to the Yankees offense than any player they could get in return. Because he’s essentially a one-year rental, teams won’t be apt to give up much value.

And then don’t get me started on trading Hughes for Holliday.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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It’s always amusing when the back page of the Daily News doesn’t match up with the article it’s over-hyping. Today’s tabloid exploitation comes to us courtesy of Carl Pavano.

According to Mark Feinsand, some source feels that Brian Cashman may be interested in Carl Pavano. To the back page editors, this is an opportunity to splash Pavano all over the back pages with some unknown intent. But had these editors actually bothered to read the article, they would have come across a few key passages from Feinsand:

“I’m not ruling anything out,” Cashman said. “We have needs, so we’ll have to go to the marketplace, be it through free agency or through trades, to fill those needs.”

Bringing back Pavano certainly won’t be the big move the Yankees are looking to make this winter, but rather one that could help fill in the back end of the rotation.

That’s really what this is all about. Hardly different from the Sergio Mitre deal, the Yankees would bring back Pavano for one year at a very low base price with some incentives. If it doesn’t work out early, they can cut their losses. If it looks like Pavano might be half-useful, the Yanks could either keep him or trade him to a team in need of pitching. There are only about 29 other clubs that fit that bill.

For his part, Pavano is supposedly interested in returning to the Yanks in an effort to live down his bad reputation. “At the end of the day, his first choice would be to come back to New York,” Tom O’Connell, Pavano’s agent, said to Feinsand. “He feels he has some unfinished business.”

As long as the Yanks aren’t going to consider Pavano one of their first five starters, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to tossing another arm in the mix come March. One thing is for sure; it would give the Daily News something to overhype every five days and these people something to ignorantly rail against too.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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